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Pat’s Loom

When Pat Muir was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2004, she decided to try all the things she ever wanted to do in her life. One of these things was weaving.

I taught myself from a book and then I became a bit of a loom-aholic,” says Pat.  “I bought bigger and bigger looms until I got a computer controlled Dobby loom.”

Pat makes cloth for local medieval reenactors, which is a hobby the whole family are involved in.  Pat’s diagnosis creates a lot of stiffness which was causing her pain when using her loom. It became hard on her hips as she had to use some force to push down on the pedal to activate the loom. Eventually weaving, her favourite hobby, only meant pain and discomfort. She contacted TAD to see if there was anything that could help.

Volunteer Col McIntyre, from the TAD Illawarra group, visited Pat to investigate the loom. Col’s solution was to bypass the original foot pedal and introduce a pneumatic system to do the work that the original lever was doing. Col put a pneumatic cylinder into the system and a new foot pedal which would be much lighter for Pat to push. The new pedal directs air into the cylinder which creates the energy that was being done by the original lever. Col initially made a prototype with materials borrowed from TAFE to ensure that the system worked.

Pat was delighted with the outcome. “Col was the perfect guy for the job. He had such a good grasp of what I wanted and his solution is so elegant. I wouldn’t have been able to keep weaving without his help. The smile on my face has been enormous ever since!”

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TAD acknowledges the traditional owners of country throughout Australia and recognises their continuing connection to land, waters and community. We pay our respects to them and their cultures and to elders past, present and emerging.